Announcing a Summer of Conan – Index

“I was born in the midst of a battle,” he answered, tearing a chunk of meat from a huge joint with his strong teeth. “The first sound my ears heard was the clang of swords and the yells of the slaying.”

Believe it or not, I had never read Robert E. Howard’s original Conan stories.  My entire exposure to Conan was limited to the Ah-nold movies and Robert Jordan’s first three Conan pastiches.  That simply will not stand.  No self-respecting blogger can spend any serious amount of time examining speculative fiction’s roots and not cover Howard and Conan.

Throwback SF Thursday was never supposed to be about one-off book reviews, although I have written plenty of those and will continue to do so.  Ideally, what I will do is look at both vintage SF and the retro SF it has inspired.  That will be my approach with Conan.  Not only will I cover Howard’s original stories, I will also cover the move adaptations, a big chunk of the pastiches, and one stretch of the comics.

I’ve been working on my Conan collection for several weeks.  For starters, I have the three volume Del Rey collection of the original Robert E. Howard stories.  As to the pastiches, I have a number of those Tor put out: the first two Robert Jordan omnibuses, two Leonard Carpenter books, four Roland Green books, two Steve Perry books, and two John Maddox Roberts books.  I also have two graphic novels by Kurt Busiek, blu-ray editions of the two Ah-nold movies and the Khal Drogo movies, and the Lin Carter and L. Sprague de Camp novelization of the first Ah-nold movie.

I’m going to do a few posts on the Howard stories, but I will probably only cover the pastiches by author (and it is highly doubtful I will get through 18 books).  But Throwback SF Thursday will, for the rest of the summer, be devoted to Conan.

Howard’s True Forebears are in Post-Apocalyptic Fiction, not Epic Fantasy (The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian)

Robert E. Howard Wrote Like Hank Williams Sang (The Bloody Crown of Conan)

Robert E. Howard Was the Texan Tolkien (The Conquering Sword of Conan)

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About H.P.

Blogs on speculative fiction books at Every Day Should Be Tuesday.
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17 Responses to Announcing a Summer of Conan – Index

  1. Cambias says:

    Oh, boy. You’re in for a great summer. The films and adaptations are the barest palimpsest of Howard’s stories.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. danielshumphreys says:

    Cool. Are you trying to follow the chronology, or sticking with Howard first, then the rest?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. John Boyle says:

    This I have to read. I think you’ll really enjoy it.

    Liked by 1 person

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  5. Good to hear! However, it’s a pity that you’ll be reading Busiek’s comics interpretation of the character rather than that of Roy Thomas. Busiek made far more wrong turns and mistakes with Conan with much less of an excuse (ie, he had no Comics Code over him and he had far more scholarship etc to fall back on). Roy Thomas was and is a true fan of REH and turned into something of a Howard scholar. Busiek was just a superhero writer moonlighting on a sword & sorcery project. I was perfectly willing to give Busiek a shot. I became increasingly disillusioned as time went on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • H.P. says:

      I will keep an eye out for any Roy Thomas Conan comics at the used bookstore.

      I am a fan of Busiek’s very pulpy Autumnlands comic.

      Like

    • Dark Horse has reprinted all the RT run in their Conan Chronicles compilations. There are plenty of used copies out there in the wild and on Amazon.

      Roy was Guest of Honor at Howard Days in Cross Plains 11 years ago for the REH centennial. I can guarantee that won’t be happening with Busiek anytime soon. Busiek is a good writer in his own comfort zone, but he had a truly half-assed grasp of REH and Conan. From what I’ve noticed, Busiek seems most popular with people who first discovered Conan through his comics and with those raised on the Tor pastiches. Not a rousing vindication of Busiek’s take on the character, IMO.

      Meanwhile, among actual REH scholars like Rusty Burke and others — the ones who actually read comics at all, anyway — Thomas’ original run is held to be the best take on the character by a pretty good margin. There’s a bit of a split regarding whether RT did a better job in the actual Conan the Barbarian comic or the b&w Savage Sword of Conan, which has also been reprinted by DHC.

      Liked by 1 person

      • H.P. says:

        Ok, I ordered vols. 1 of The Chronicles of Conan and The Savage Sword of Conan. I would have bought more but the subsequent volumes aren’t cheap.

        Like

      • Enjoy! I will say that RT was just discovering the character in that first year or two of Conan the Barbarian. He had zero scholarship on Conan and the Hyborian Age to go by. Busiek had it infinitely better/easier. OTOH, Savage Sword didn’t fire up until RT was fairly confident and knowledgeable. It’s interesting to compare the first few issues of both CtB and SSoC.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Terry says:

    Looking forward to it. Of the pastiches–and I think I have them all– the JMR books are far and away the best; to me as good as REH. Jordan, on the other hand, is the worst. He insists on creating alien races–giants, lizards, worms–instead of just focussing on the human relationships.

    Liked by 1 person

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